How to Detect a Wart and What to Do About Them

Doctor looking at someone's wart How to Detect a Wart and What to Do About Them

Warts are fairly common skin conditions that almost everyone experiences at one time or another. If you’ve found a wart somewhere on your body recently, don’t worry. There are plenty of wart removal options. Read on to find out more about what causes warts, how to identify warts, and how to get rid of warts.

How to Identify and Treat Warts

What Causes Warts?

Warts are common but rarely understood. Their root cause is actually the human papillomavirus (HPV), which gains access to the skin through micro-breaks in the skin’s outermost layer. Warts generally show up as rough and granular appearance and can appear anywhere on the body. Most commonly, they’re found on the hands, feet, and genitals.

Warts are quite contagious because the HPV virus itself is very contagious. Warts are often picked up through contact with surfaces like shower floors or gym equipment. Other types of warts, like those found on the genitals, are spread through sexual contact.

Types of Warts

Common warts appear where there is broken skin, for instance, around bitten or picked fingernails. Plantars warts are found on the soles of the feet and are usually flatter and less bumpy, but can sometimes be painful. Genital warts occur on or around the genital organs.

You can recognize warts by their bumpy appearance. There may only be one wart in an area, or several in a cluster. They’re either slightly lighter or slightly darker than the skin’s natural pigment. Sometimes they have black dots in them, which are small clotted blood vessels.

How to Get Rid of Warts

First, you should take the necessary steps to prevent picking up warts in the first place. If you have not received the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12, it is recommended that you do so. This vaccine prevents the most common type of HPV, which can potentially cause genital warts and cervical cancer.

You should always avoid walking barefoot on shared surfaces, particularly in gym locker rooms, public showers, and pools. Do not touch other people’s warts, and be sure to have separate nail clippers for each person in a household.

There are several types of treatments for wart removal. OTC treatments usually include the ingredient salicylic acid, which dries up the wart and sloughs off the dead skin. (These types of treatments should never be used on genital warts.) Cryotherapy, or freezing of the warts, is a procedure performed in a dermatology office. This method uses liquid nitrogen to destroy a wart, and it subsequently falls off. Cryotherapy is the most common procedure used on warts, but laser therapy can also be used if necessary. The laser emits a light beam to vaporize HPV-related warts and the blood vessels supplying them.

Contact Vanguard Dermatology

Are you concerned you might have a wart and want to get a professional opinion? If you’re in the greater New York City area, contact Vanguard Dermatology today for an appointment. One of our board-certified specialists can diagnose any wart-related issues and recommend treatment.

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